The Secret Garden’s Perennial Wisdom…for Parents

The Secret Garden

Every September of my English teaching career, I’d type up the semester’s reading list and prepare myself for the inevitable question: I’ve already read this! Why do I have to read it again? I’d tell my 
students that rereading a novel at a new period in their lives could bring fresh insight. But I never […]

Summer and Children and Birds and Animals and Flowers and Trees and Bees and Books

by Jean C. George In the sunny frame of our kitchen door last summer stood our eight-year-old daughter, Twig. Her excitement was so great that there were no words — just wide misty eyes and a trembling chin, for cupped in her hands was a tiny bird. The bright-eyed nestling was still covered with puffs […]

No Joke! Humor and Culture in Middle-Grade Books

Right Ho, Jeeves

When I was a child, growing up in the various parts of India to which my father’s job took us, books were my friends, and I liked them funny. I discovered my grandfather’s P. G. Wodehouse collection at the age of eleven and was at once enchanted by the amiable lunacy of fictional worlds like […]

What Makes a Good YA Dystopian Novel?


Dystopias are characterized as a society that is a counter-utopia, a repressed, controlled, restricted system with multiple social controls put into place via government, military, or a powerful authority figure. Issues of surveillance and invasive technologies are often key, as is a consistent emphasis that this is not a place where you’d want to live. […]

On the Rights of Reading and Girls and Boys


Discussions about gender issues in children’s literature are perennial (even in the pages of this magazine; see the special issue on gender in September/October 2007; articles on boy and girl reading in the September/October 2010 issue; and, most recently, Carey E. Hagan’s “One Tough Cookie” in the September/October 2011 issue). My personal experiences differ from […]

Down on the farm

farm anatomy

As an urban twenty-something with a CSA farm share, a crush on Michael Pollan, and the occasional yearning to dangle tomato plants from my third-story apartment windows, I think a bit too much about where my food comes from. I often wonder how much of my insanity I will impart upon my future offspring. Will […]

When the Name of the Game Is a Children’s Book

Children's lit board games

Yes, it’s the digital age; but enhancing the experience of reading a children’s book doesn’t have to happen only on a screen. A board game based on a children’s book is an alternative, low-tech option that allows players to experience the world of a book in a new form. In children’s book–based board games, players […]

Story smorgasbord


“If you could go anywhere, where would you go?” The sky’s the limit in Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart’s You Choose (Kane Miller, March), an interactive book (originally published in the U.K. in 2003) where kids call the shots in their own narrative. Sharratt’s bright and friendly cartoon illustrations invite readers into pages filled with […]

Chapter books you’ve been waiting for

Ivy and Bean No News is Good News

There’s nothing like a familiar protagonist, setting, and illustrations to make easing into a new book a smooth ride for young readers. Two of these chapter books are entries in popular series; one is a sequel to an award-winning book from New Zealand; and one, while not part of a series, will be sure to […]

Young (adult) love

The Fault in Our Stars

Whether Valentine’s Day puts you in the mood for a heartwarming read or a heartbreaking one, these four new YA novels about love (and love lost) offer some of each. In Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Hadley misses her flight to London, where she’s grudgingly going to her father’s […]